HexCam Octocopter helps record new cultural centre being lifted onto Southend Pier

Earlier this year we teamed up with Apricot Productions from Lenwade, Norwich to record the final stages of an incredibly complex construction project.

When Kier won the contract to build the new cultural centre for the end of the pier at Southend-on-Sea they realised that it would be too problematic to construct the building in situ. As a result a plan was devised to construct the building on the quayside at Tilbury Port. The 170 tonne building was then lifted onto a barge and carried down the Thames before being lifted onto the pier with a marine crane.

On the two days of the “big lift” the weather conditions were almost perfect with the wind blowing about 10 knots on both days.

This was our first major project with the octocopter and we also gave the hexacopter a run out as well although it struggled a bit in the wind and GoPro footage does not stabilise well in post-production due to the fisheye effect.

Having gained permission to fly at various sites by the authorities at Tilbury Port and Essex County Council we flew at several sites in Tilbury Port and on the end of Southend Pier.

Day 1 was the initial lift onto the barge and, as the timetable was to be driven by tides and weather we had a very early start. We carried out three flights with the octocopter, filming various stages of the initial lift and drop onto the barge as well as the transition through Tilbury Lock and onto the Thames.

Due to the calm conditions, the barge was anchored overnight a short distance from the pierhead.

Day 2 saw another early start and a trip for the octocopter on the train down the pier which is over a mile long. During the day we filmed various stages of the lift and final drop onto the pier as well as a final shot of the building in situ.

Since we shot the video, the exterior cladding has been added as well as the windows and the interior of the building is now being completed.

It was an amazing project to be involved with and taught us a lot about the capabilities of our two aircraft and video gear as well as improving my piloting skills and seeing how our footage can be integrated with traditional footage to great effect.

Here is the final video.

Southend Cultural Centre – The Big Lift from Apricot Productions on Vimeo.

Elliott, HexCam


The making of a music video

What can I say? I wish we’d had this week’s weather to film the aerial shots for a music video for Norwich band …of Diamonds, but we didn’t!

When we were contacted by the band’s production team, we were very happy to get involved. We dodged rain showers and flew in 14mph winds to obtain aerial footage of Len Wright’s stunning vintage Bedford SB3 bus. The footage was then mixed in with external and internal ground-based footage of the bus and band to create the final video. Although we have work to do, particularly to cope with the post-processing challenges created by flying in high winds, we think it came out really well!

May we also say that the members of Thurton, Ashby and district WI are absolute stars!!

Below are two videos; a rough cut of some of the aerial shots and the completed pop video.
UAV: HL Octocopter

FC: DJI Wookong M

Camera: Sony Alpha Nex-5N 1080P 50fps

Enjoy the lovely weather!

Collaboration between HexCam and Mussett Engineering


Engineers at a Norfolk firm are using their skills and knowledge to support product development at a local start-up business.

Composites engineers from Mussett Engineering, in Loddon, are working with aerial photography firm HexCam, based in Taverham, Norwich, to look at ways to make their innovative radio-controlled multirotor aerial camera system lighter and stronger.

The radio-controlled aircraft are used to take aerial photos and HD video anywhere from ground level to 120m altitude.

Octocopter launch

HexCam Octocopter being launched to carry out aerial video capture

Composites manager Graham Muff said: ‘These sort of projects are really interesting for us as they pose new engineering challenges.

‘This isn’t a product which we’ve worked with before but as composites engineers, we know that carbon fibre can be used to make products lighter and stronger, so it has useful applications for all sorts of businesses.’

He added: ‘The majority of our work comes from the automotive and motorsport sectors, so working closely with a local start-up business is a great opportunity for us to test our skills on something new and something really different.’

Elliott Corke, director of HexCam, said: ‘We are looking forward to working with Mussett Composites.

‘To find a specialist company on our doorstep who are open to new ideas and able to help us take our flight equipment to a new level is an exciting prospect and we hope that our collaboration is something that will continue as both our business and the UK UAV industry continue to develop.’

To find out more about Hexcam, visit www.hexcam.co.uk

To find out more about Mussett Engineering, visit www.mussett.co.uk

For more information, email hayley@lexiamedia.co.uk or call 07920 165544

Press release by www.lexiamedia.co.uk

How to make sure UAV aerial photography projects run smoothly

I haven’t blogged for a while so, while the weather is against me, I thought I’d sit down and write a short blog about how we approach each project so that you can understand the process we have to go through.

When I became BNUC-S qualified to fly my UAV commercially and was approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for aerial work I had to submit my Operations Manual. I passed a flight test carried out against my own manual and had the Ops Manual approved by both the CAA and EuroUSC who administrate the BNUC-S qualification.

In order to keep my qualification and permission I have to adhere to the processes in my manual. I try to keep this as simple as possible for customers as I know that, at the end of the day, you really just want your photos or video!

So, I will do as much as possible to minimise the paperwork and allow us to get on with the interesting bit. This is also the reason why I am not able currently to put prices on my website. Every project is different. Some require only an hour or so of planning in the office, particularly if they are repeat projects. Others require days of planning and communication with other agencies. Generally we cannot just run out and fly a project for you as we would probably end up breaching CAA legislation, but we will try to mobilise as soon as possible if that is required.

When you first contact me it is very useful if you are able to give me an exact postcode for the site of the operation so that I can check the site online. I will also need permission of the site owner. There isn’t really any such thing a “public land”, generally there is somebody who has ownership or responsibility for the land. This may be a private land-owner or a parish, district or county council. If the land-owner is you that makes life easier! I also need to know other things. Is it a fixed date? Do you require video or still photographs? Do you need editing? If you are able to think about these things a bit before contacting me it is very helpful.

I will find out all of the above by giving you a “Form 1” (imaginative, I know!). All being well, it is the only paperwork you will have to fill out.

We will then need to carry out a site survey and risk assessment and fill in a “Form 2”. This is for our benefit as the CAA have the right to request paperwork for each operation we carry out. If the operation is relatively simple then it may be possible to carry this out on the day, otherwise we may need to make a site visit. This will all be budgeted for in my initial quote. There will be no surprises in terms of price unless you ask us to do extra work on top of what we have already quoted for.

Once we have made sure the project is feasible we will:

1) Carry out a site survey and risk assessment

2) Check the airspace and NOTAMs to make sure we are safe to work in that area

3) Make sure the land-owner’s permission is obtained (your help with that is normally necessary)

4) Check the weather!

5) Carry out pre-flight checks on all our equipment

6) Fly the operation as competently and safely as possible

7) Ensure we have obtained the images you require

8) Carry out post-flight checks

9) Make sure we have left the site tidy

We will then provide you with draft images and the final images will be released on payment of your invoice. I am afraid we have to work this way now as one slightly unscrupulous customer exploited our good will.

With most of our imagery, we retain the copyright on the images and grant our customers an unlimited licence to use the images for their own purposes as long as it doesn’t involve reselling all or part of the images. In that case we would need to have further discussions before carrying out the project.

I hope this helps you to understand how we treat each project. As far as I am concerned, the safety of our customers, crew and the public are paramount so I will endeavour to provide you with great imagery at a fair price without compromising on safety.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Elliott – HexCam